Bell Bay Powerfuels, a partnership between Brisbane-based Abel Energy and Iberdrola Australia, announced it has signed a term sheet with Hydro Tasmania for the sale of the decommissioned Bell Bay Power Station in northern Tasmania.
Bell Bay Powerfuels plans to redevelop the mothballed power station that was shuttered in 2009, transforming the site into a large-scale, renewables-based hydrogen and green methanol facility targeting the existing market for the fuel in Australia and the emerging market in the shipping industry.
Abel said it will look to retain and repurpose existing infrastructure where possible and plans to use the existing deep-water berth for the transport of green methanol to meet the emerging export and domestic demand.
It is anticipated the project, to be backed by up to 700 MW of new renewable energy generation to be developed within the state, will be built in stages with the first stage to include a 140 MW electrolyser that will generate the green hydrogen that would then be converted into green methanol by adding carbon from forestry wood waste.
The initial stage will produce an estimated 200,000 tonnes of green methanol per year for both domestic and international customers. The project would eventually scale up to include a 240 MW electrolyser unit capable of delivering up to 300,000 tonnes of green methanol per year.
ABEL co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael van Baarle said the selection of the site would accelerate the project development, with front end engineering and design (FEED) due to start in a few months’ time. Commercial operation is scheduled to commence in 2027.
“This announcement is the start of a very unique period for Tasmanian renewable energy,” van Baarle said. “We are on the cusp of being a global leader in green methanol production, the future fuel of world shipping.”
Abel said the securing of a site comes after “significant progress” has already been made across other project components including sourcing water supply, engineering capability and securing green methanol offtake arrangements.
Iberdrola, which has established itself as a major player in Australia’s renewable energy market since its arrival in 2020 with more than 800 MW operating capacity, 453 MW under construction and a development pipeline of over 1 GW, is expected to develop the renewable energy assets that will power the electrolyser. The most likely source for the renewable power would be a new wind farm with firming capacity to come from Hydro Tasmania.
Iberdrola Australia Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ross Rolfe said the company’s support for the project is part of a broader commitment to deliver decarbonisation solutions for commercial and industrial customers in historically hard-to-abate sectors.
“In addition to our partnership with Bell Bay Powerfuels, Iberdrola is providing technical and commercial support for the project, enabling the development to benefit from our local market expertise and global capabilities in this emerging technology,” he said.
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